Following his first legal history, Worse than the Devil, about the Milwaukee Police Station bombing of 1917, Madison defense attorney Strang (known from Netflix’s Making a Murderer) looks at another seminal case from 100 years ago, the mass trials of folks connected to International Workers of the World (Wobblies), the big-tent union that went up against mining and railroad interest. With the start of the Great War, anti-war sentiment became a criminal offense, and large numbers of people were put on trial in Chicago and other cities. With a different take on free speech and no right to an attorney, the trials were different than they are today. But other notable aspects of these trials still resonate, such as the power of the prosecuting attorneys in controlling the cases. Strang brings to life many of the players (there are a lot of larger-than-life characters involved) and looks at the strategic way the industrial interests used the government to break the IWW. Though categorized as an academic title, Keep the Wretches in Order will resonate with history buffs and many lawyers.— Daniel Goldin
In the first legal history of this federal trial, Dean Strang shows how the case laid the groundwork for a fundamentally different strategy to stifle radical threats, and had a major role in shaping the modern Justice Department. As the trial unfolded, it became an exercise of raw force, raising serious questions about its legitimacy and revealing the fragility of a criminal justice system under great external pressure.